Can Yahoo reinvent its business for the mobile web?

So far, the company generating the most attention at this year's Consumer Electronics Show is…Yahoo? Seriously. With its stock at a four-year low, the beleaguered Internet giant is going all in on mobile, launching a revamped Yahoo Go 3.0 solution, debuting a new mobile advertising initiative and, most significantly, opening its fledgling Mobile Developer Platform to third-party applications. Promising developers the tools necessary to write code only once for instant publication across the device ecosystem, Yahoo's Mobile Developer Platform hinges on widgets that enable users to select their favorite Internet content and services for inclusion on their phones, regardless of provider. Widgets from launch partners including eBay, MySpace and MTV are scheduled to debut later this week.

By redoubling its mobile web efforts, Yahoo is embracing one of the oldest business adages of all: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." As it continues to lose search engine market share to Google, it makes perfect sense that Yahoo would reinvent its mobile image in the likeness of its rival, opening its platform to third-party development and pinning its revenue hopes on mobile advertising. Yahoo's timing couldn't be better--there's growing sentiment among developers that Google released the Android SDK into the wild far too prematurely, and to compound the issue, Google was forced to delay its much-ballyhooed Android Developer Challenge after final testing turned up some major bugs.

The problem is that Yahoo's mobile vision is so familiar by now--on paper, there's nothing that truly distinguishes its platform from Google, Microsoft, Palm or RIM, and on top of everything else, Yahoo can't even lay claim to a mobile OS of its own. Opening your platform is the easy part--convincing developers to accept the invitation is where it gets tough. -Jason

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